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Microphone Not Working? Here’s How to Fix It


Fixing a faulty microphone is one of the hardest things to do as a content creator because it plays a huge role in the recording, filming, and sound modulation of your projects. After spending too much money on the latest and most durable brands, unexpected occurrences can still cause it to malfunction. Unfortunately, microphones are the most susceptible to have faulty issues due to their continuous use.

But do not panic! A defective mic isn’t necessarily broken. It can usually mean that there is trapped dust or fluids inside the diaphragm. It can be easily remedied through thorough cleaning and by allowing it to dry. Although most people are confident enough with their skills and experience to tinker with their mics, many are still anxious to open them and check for the sources of the malfunction. If you’re uncertain, there are many ways that can help you with your mic problem.

Microphone not working? Here’s how to fix it.

How to Determine if You Have a Broken Microphone?

Replacing or fixing a faulty microphone isn’t always the solution, especially if you’re still starting your career as a content creator. Not to mention, there aren’t many available stocks in the market and it’s time-consuming to wait for the next batch or purchase a much more expensive or cheaper brand.

But how can you know that your mic is already reaching its limit?

Visual Inspection

A very straightforward way is to check all the visible indications that your mic is already prone to damage. Check the XLR input pins, which are located at the bottom of the gadget, to see if none of these are broken or bent. These XLR inputs are crucial because it provides a clean audio transfer and conversion from the diaphragm to the application which reads it like an electrical current.

Also, check the diaphragm if there are signs of corrosion. Microphones have metals as their diaphragm, and due to factors such as sweat, saliva, humidity, and other environmental factors, the mic’s backplate and diaphragm can corrode.

Moreover, if you have the means to open your mic, check the electronics inside and see if all the wires are still properly soldered and connected in place.

Frequency Response Test

When we talk about frequency response, it’s one of the features of a microphone that captures sound from a specific distance. Hence, a faulty microphone is unable to pick up all sorts of frequencies from its surroundings. One common indication is when the sound you hear from a mic is dull because the intended frequency for that audio to sound better wasn’t captured or recorded.

In this regard, a frequency response test is done to determine whether you have good quality or broken microphone. It involves recording live performances, recording proximity voices, analyzing the EQ parameters, and comparing it with the standard data.

A faulty microphone typically shows low-frequency gain in the EQ curve. Due to this, the overall dB of the mic was not met causing the recorded audio to sound dull.

How to Fix My Broken Microphone?

Microphone Not Working? Here's How to Fix It

After conducting a preliminary check-up to see what is the problem with your mic, you can now proceed to fix it. However, to people who are new to the industry, or some of the veterans, manually opening the hardware of your broken microphone is not a forte they wish to discover.

But if you’re willing to do it, all you need to have is a soldering iron and solder, screwdriver, voltage meters, needle nose pliers, and internal hardware you wish to replace.

But take note that every type of microphone has its special method of fixing. Here are the general things you need to remember in fixing a faulty microphone of any type.

  1. Conduct internal troubleshooting and repair.
  2. Check wire continuity using a voltmeter. Do this by carefully disassembling the mic from the cable connection down to the plugs and screws.
  3. Using needle-nose pliers, gently take out the connector and inspect the wires and solder joints if these need to be re-soldered.
  4. If you can see the mic’s transformer, between the connector and the cartridge, inspect for potential damage from internal burning from the solder joints.
  5. Re-solder the solder joints and wires if the mic has an on/off switch. If the switch is loose, disconnect the wire and make a temporary splice.
  6. Finally, inspect the cartridge if there are obvious signs of malfunction. Re-solder any evident problem and take note of all the numbers written on it, as well as the model number of your mic.
  7. If you’re using a ribbon microphone, make sure to take a photo of the ribbon foil and ask for professional help in reinstalling it.
  8. If it’s a lavalier or headphone mic, conducting internal troubleshooting is enough because their design is small unlike the other types of microphone.

How Can I Maintain the Functionality of My Microphone?

The general causes of a faulty microphone involve hygiene-related factors, plus environmental interferences. To maintain the functionality of your mic, proper cleaning and maintenance should be done. Not only will it boost the longevity of your device, but also keep the audio quality high.

Condenser Microphone

Condenser Mic

Studio recordings rely heavily on condenser microphones due to their sensitive frequency response and well-rounded polar pattern. Here are a few ideas to help you maintain your condenser functioning for a longer period.

  1. Store away the microphone in a plastic bag when not in use. Airborne dust and foam particles can cause clogging and damage the internal wiring and solder joints if left unattended.
  2. Always apply a pop filter to prevent unwanted saliva and sweat from touching the diaphragm of the mic during recording sessions. A polluted capsule will eventually decrease the frequency response and impulse response of the condenser. In addition, stand at least six feet before the microphone when you’re recording.
  3. Before turning on the power supply, make sure the cable from the power source is properly connected to the tube condenser mic. If not done right, the voltage shock from the power source can potentially kill or damage the cable.
  4. Excessive sound pressure levels (SPL) will gradually damage the capsule’s diaphragm from continuous use, much like extended exposure will harm your hearing. Always use a condenser mic in an area where you can place you put your ears.

Dynamic Microphone

Dynamic Mic

Dynamic mics go through a lot of physical activity, especially on stage, but still are capable of producing the sound quality we want. However, it also makes it more susceptible to malfunction. Factors such as spit, sweat, lipstick, grime, and a variety of other unwanted elements accumulate on your microphone’s grille, diaphragm, and windscreen night after night.

In case it needs cleaning, here are some things you can do.

  1. Remove the grille from your microphone and clean it with water. Wash the scents off by using a mild detergent and soft-bristled toothbrush if it’s filled with accumulated dirt. You can still attach the foam windscreen while cleaning the grille.
  2. Thoroughly dry the grille before reinstalling it on the microphone. It is preferable to use an air dryer, but a hairdryer on low heat would suffice if you decided to remove the interior foam.
  3. If your microphone’s grille isn’t removable, turn it upside down and scrape it carefully with a damp toothbrush. This will prevent the moisture to flow down on the cartridge, while you gently brush the stink away. Never spray disinfectant as it may potentially damage your microphone.
  4. Alternatively, you can use cosmetic wipes to remove all the stains caused by lipsticks and other makeup products.

Ribbon Microphones

Ribbon Mic

As a vintage-looking microphone, it needs extra care to prevent it from malfunctioning due to different external factors like humidity. Here are some techniques you can apply to maintain the longevity of a ribbon mic.

  1. Like condenser mics, use a pop filter to protect the fragile ribbon foil from all the hard-pounding sound and air pollutants in the surrounding.
  2. Slightly position it off-axis to prevent any direct contact from loud and sharp noises. It only has a fairly even frequency response, which makes it fragile to intense sound.
  3. If you want to use it as an overhead mic for instruments, make sure to position it at a 45-degree angle to lessen the stress on the ribbon foil.
  4. Make sure to cover its diaphragm first before putting it down because its strong magnets may attract metallic particles from the ground.
  5. Make sure that your phantom power is turned off every time you attach the ribbon mic to it, to prevent any short-circuit.
  6. Make sure to maintain a stable SPL for the ribbon mic, especially during travels. The sudden change in pressure and temperature may catalyze its deterioration.

Final Note

Microphone Not Working? Here's How to Fix It

Fixing a faulty microphone is proven to be a tedious task. Most of the time, you will choose to buy a new one than spend more money on trying to fix your faulty mic. While this may sound be the most logical thing to do, you should still check the scope of the damage and see what alternative you can arrive with.

Needless to say, no matter what brand of microphone you bought, it still has limitations which we should always take into consideration. Otherwise, we’ll only feel disappointed if it didn’t meet our expectations.

Naomi Feller

Originally from the East Coast, Naomi started singing as young as 3 years old. In her early teens Naomi made some embarrassing YouTube videos before settling on a love for Podcast editing. When she's not pouring over endless amounts of audio, she lends her expertise to us here at Shout4Music with her crystal clear and finely tuned microphone reviews.

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